We had our annual January gathering at the Lower Kinnaird beat of the River Tay on Saturday. This is when me and a group of good pals from various parts of Scotland meet up and blow away the winter cobwebs and attempt to catch an elusive January springer. The river was sitting at 2ft on the gauge and the weather was cold but otherwise it was a perfect early spring day for being out fishing.
I was to travel down to Tayside with fellow Donsiders, Bill and Charlie. After rising at 5.00am to pick up Charlie and meet Bill we set off for the Tay just after 6am. The drive down to Tayside took much longer than normal due to persistent thick fog which made driving difficult but we arrived at the beat hut just before 8.30am. After the meet and greet in the fishing hut over a cup of coffee and a bacon roll it was time to get down to business and work out where we were to start fishing for the day.
I was to fish the Guay Pool with Charlie and Andy drove us round and showed us the water. I opted to start with the fly as did Charlie. I tackled up with my 15ft Mackenzie DTX shooting head rod with a Guideline PT Scandi F/H/S1 shooting head line and a 10ft 5.6ips versi tip.. Fly of choice was a 2" Black and Yellow conehead tube. I was to start about half way down the pool with Charlie 50 yards below me. I waded out to just above my knees as instructed and began lengthening line out. After only my third cast I lifted into a fish. The initial take was quite subtle and I applied a bit of pressure once the fish began to pull some line off the reel. I set the hook and carefully began to make my way back to the bank. No sooner had I started moving into the bank the fish was off. I didn't see the fish so there was no way of knowing what it was but it was best not to think about it too much and I was back fishing again immediately. Charlie and I fished the whole pool several time with both fly and spinner but neither of us had any luck so it was up to the Ash Tree pool to meet the rest of the guys and have a bite to eat.
On arrival to the Ash Tree pool the guys were standing round a wee fire willing the soup pot to start boiling. It was soon hot enough to serve and we sat down to some of Kenny's home made Ham Hock soup and bread. The hot soup went down a treat and after discussing the morning's proceedings we were allocated our pools for the afternoon session and set off for another crack at catching a January Tay springer.
Martin, the ghille drove Charlie and I round to fish the Junction Pool. The Junction Pool is where the River Tummel meets the Tay. The Tummel itself is a very productive river and we could fish the lower pools of the river if we so wished. Charlie went in a the top of the pool this time and I went in half way down. I changed lines over to an I/S2/S3 shooting head as this pool held a good bit of depth and was much faster flowing that Guay. Almost as soon as I waded out into the pool a big coloured fish jumped out of the water. This was obviously an old fish but it was easily 25lb. Charlie and I fished through the pool without a touch and apart from the older fish we didn't see anything moving despite how "fishy" the pool looked. Just as we were making our way back to the top of the pool Martin arrived to take us back to the hut as it was nearly 4.30pm. Time doesn't half fly when you are fishing!
We arrived back at the hut and met up with the other guys. Nobody had any luck but Bill and Alan were still to return. We sat in the hut with a cup of coffee discussing the day we'd had when Bill drew up outside the hut and announced he'd landed a cracking fish of around 9lb from the Guay Pool. this was great news and we we all delighted for Bill as it was his and the beat's first fish of the season. \it was also Bill's first ever January fish he'd caught in all the years he had been fishing. Kenny presented Bill with a bottle of Fettercairn single malt whisky for catching the first fish and we all congratulated him on getting his fish. It really was the perfect end to a great day on the river in the company of good friends. Here's to the next time we all meet up which will be late March, again on the River Tay.
With the customary blowing off the cobwebs cast on the River Tay now over, my attention turns to the opening of my local river, the Dee. It opens again for salmon fishing on the 1st February and I really can't wait to get out for a cast there again. My first outing is at Park on opening day with good pals. Fingers crossed I can get off to good start like I did last season. Another opening day springer would do me just fine. Camera will be at the ready if I do!
|Group photo. L/R - Alan, Me, Martin (ghillie), Kenny, Andy, Bill, Charlie and Craig|
|Kenny and Alan enjoy a bacon roll and coffee before starting the day.|
|The well equipped fishing hut at Lower Kinnaird.|
|Andy points out the likely spots of the Guay Pool to Charlie.|
|A very large carcass of a salmon lies on the bank of the Guay Pool. Would have easily top the scales at 20lb plus.|
|Fishing down the Guay Pool shortly after loosing a fish.|
|Looking upstream to where the River Tummel meets the River tay.|
|Looking across the Junction pool. The big coloured fish was splashing about just up from the seat on the bank.|
|Fishing down the Junction Pool. Would love to fish it in April/May time.|
|A 2.5" Willie Gunn tube flutters in the icy cold River Tay|
|What we are all after. Bill's 9lb January salmon from the Guay Pool at 3.30pm.|